Seven in ten (71 per cent) working people would like to see a new legal right to request paid time off for training and 53 per cent say they would be likely to use it, according to a new YouGov survey released today (Thursday) by the TUC and unionlearn, its learning and skills organisation.
The poll shows that people aged 18-24 are the strongest supporters, with four out of five (82 per cent) agreeing that "employees should have a legal right to request paid time off for training". Three in five (59 per cent) agree that "if there was a legal right to request paid time off for training I would ask for more training".
The TUC/unionlearn polling follows the Government's announcement in June that it would introduce a new right for employees to ask for training at work.
Those earning less than £5,000 and those whose salaries are between £25,000 and £30,000 are most likely to be in favour of the right (at least 77 per cent) while those earning between £20,000 and £25,000 are most likely to say they would use the right (62 per cent).
People with no formal qualifications are also very supportive; 76 per cent support the right and 56 per cent say would be likely to use it. However, the TUC is concerned that despite this apparent enthusiasm to learn new skills, low skilled workers are the least likely to receive training at work. Just nine per cent of employees without formal qualifications participated in job-related training in the last three months, compared to 38 per cent of graduates, according to Government statistics released for 2007.
Women (75 per cent) are stronger supporters of the right to request training than men (67 per cent) although there is no significant difference in the likelihood of them using the right. Full and part-time workers are also similarly supportive.
The TUC and unionlearn are currently using their network of more than 20,000 union learning reps in workplaces across the UK to ensure that everyone has access to training at work.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "This polling shows that workers have a great zeal to learn new skills. The enthusiasm shown by people on low incomes, those with few or no qualifications and part-time workers shows that while those who most need training have the biggest appetite to learn, they receive the smallest share of the training pie.
"The Government must ensure that any new right to request training is strong enough to make a genuine difference. Otherwise, the one third of employers who refuse to train their staff will continue to shirk their responsibilities and overlook those that need training most. Meanwhile business groups will continue to moan about the lack of skills possessed by the UK workforce."